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Header image by Gavin Whitner

One of the most enduring cultural memes in modern society is the divide between the diva performer and the grumpy sound tech. Examples vary from sketch comedy to Gary Larson, but the overarching theme is the entirely different approaches to a gig. The sound tech is typecast as a grumpy Neanderthal by the performers, frustrated at their dismissive and condescending attitude. The performers are equally cast as demanding divas, self-obsessed and equally condescending towards anyone that they don’t consider to be an artistic equal. 

It would be nice to say that these memes aren’t relevant to the church worship and tech team, but observation tells us something different. Church techies moan about the “skinny jeaned worship leader” whilst the musicians constantly reach for ways to avoid talking to the sound tech directly. 

Personally, I definitely used to be one of the grumpy sound engineers (some would argue that this is still the case, particularly my wife!). But over time God has shown me more and more what the underlying issues are, dealing with them in love and discipline.  

The main issue was one of a misplaced identity. I hesitate to use the word broken, as I know that God has given me a new identity, but it was clear that I was ignoring that and finding it more in what people thought of me. This reliance on external validation meant that I easily fell into the established rut of the isolated, grumpy, cynical sound engineer! In the same way, I have seen musicians desperate for audience-love become equally hard-hearted towards the “minions” that make their gigs look and sound amazing. 

Both of these broken positions are caused by a misplaced identity, entirely understandable for those with no relationship with God. But we are called to a higher standard, enabled by the Holy Spirit who lives in us. For me, this meant a hard process of having my own pride exposed and dealt with. But it also allowed me to put down my defences and see the “thing behind the thing” when interacting with difficult and frustrated musicians. I was able to see their misplaced identity, and therefore speak grace and love to that situation rather than reacting in a childish way. Jesus did this time and time again, looking first at the person rather than the sin

I’m not pretending to be an accomplished theologian, but only offer some small wisdom from my own walk with God. When you’re faced with difficult and defensive techies or musicians, perhaps tired, overworked or feeling insecure about the role they are being asked to play, remember who you are. God has made you in His image, given you a new perfect identity, and you can be totally and completely secure in that knowledge. This will give you the best perspective on the situation, and you act in love, peace, and joy even if it makes no sense to others. This might mean little practical things like pre-emptively considering their needs or speaking words that build and encourage even when they are attacking you.

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